New Ivorian-Dutch horticulture project officially launched

A new project to support horticulture students and young vegetable growers in Yamoussoukro District was officially launched earlier in July. The Ambassador of the Netherlands in Abidjan, Ms. Yvette Daoud, launched the four-year project, called HortIvoire, in a virtual kick-off meeting between the main players in the project, among which the Institute Nationale de Formation Professionelle Agricole (INFPA), an educational institute under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Officially the project started already on June 1st 2020.

Private sector partners form the core of the consortium, including AGRIFER, an Ivorian-Dutch company based in Abidjan specialized in turnkey solutions for Ivorian vegetable growers using substrates. Other project partners include Rijk Zwaan, a Dutch company specialized in hybrid seeds, and Van Iperen International, a Dutch fertilizer company. The project is coordinated by Resilience BV and partly funded by the Dutch government, led by the Netherlands Embassy in Abidjan, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Agricultural Counselor office in Accra.

HortIvoire will train students from the Institute Nationale de Formation Professionelle Agricole (INFPA) and young vegetable growers in the Yamoussoukro District in a new training center that is being set up at the premises of the INFPA in Tiébissou, about 40 kilometers from Yamoussoukro. AGRIFER, whose founder and general manager Mr. Fer Weerheijm has groomed a talented young team of extension workers and young horticulture experts, will invest in most of the hardware for the training center as well as practical education in the center.

The hardware in the center in Tiébissou will among others consist of 20 greenhouses on 250 m2, where more than 200 Ivorian students will be trained until 2024 in both the production as well as commercialization of quality vegetables. The 6-month training consists of a combination of practical and theoretical education, where students are largely responsible themselves for the results of the vegetable production in the center. At the same time, the commercial production practices in these greenhouses will be demonstrated to thousands of vegetable growers in Yamoussoukro District.  

The project is unique and innovative for Côte d’Ivoire as it focuses on vegetable production hors sol, with a combination of inputs including substrate, hybrid seeds, quality fertilizers and irrigation. This combination of inputs is called the INNOFER concept. It is typical for a partnership in which The Netherlands is involved, which combines state of the art knowledge of vegetable production with a practical and business-oriented approach. Currently the training center is being built and the first students are expected to be trained later this year.